Saturday, November 20, 2010

Renovations and The Nether

My recent Minecraft time has been spent not mining fantastic new depths or discovering uncharted landscapes, but rather doing a little interior managing and cleaning. As it was, in my haste to dig deeper and find new minerals, I had left my home mine a terrible mess of sloppy caverns and nooks that lead nowhere. So little by little, I've been sorting things around, closing off dead ends and sprucing my stairways for ease of travel. I'll put up some sign markers as well just to make sure I know what's what. All these steps are part of the bigger plan to link together several different mines and islands together in one more unified feeling network. Through hell or high water I want to bring order to my Minecraft world.

And speaking of 'hell', I decided to take a break from what I was doing in order to take a little vacation to just that place. Although in Minecraft they call it The Nether instead of Hell, it's basically the same miserable place. After some trial and error, I concocted a nice Obsidian portal in one of the little nooks of my home.

Look at the pretty colors!

Making sure I left behind many of my more important items and was traveling light, I stepped inside. After a nice trippy screen wobbling effect, I found myself here...

The cure for the Winter Blues

After taking some time to soak in my hellish surroundings, I walked forward a bit to see what I could find to bring back. After mining a few of the local rocks, I noticed some of The Nether's less than friendly inhabitants (known as the Ghasts). Being that I was on a small island surrounded by lava, I had few options when it came to hiding, and once he started shooting fireballs that sounded like they exploded behind me, I knew it was time to head back.

Once I rushed through the portal back home, I breathed a sigh of relief. Considering though I could still hear the disturbing noises of The Nether on the other side of the portal, I didn't want to hang around there much longer. Safely back in the depths of my home, I cooked some Pig meat and pondered what to bring on my next trip to The Nether.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The guy who makes his living being a badass

Came across this story here about Max Hardberger, the guy who makes his living stealing back boats stolen by pirates. Pirating pirated ships is like being a double-pirate, therefore that makes him pretty much awesome already, but reading some of his exploits should have Hollywood lining up to get this guys life into a movie.

Over the years, he's distracted crews with prostitutes and witch doctors, bribed officials to look the other way, conned Russian mobsters and hidden from naval radar by riding out thunderstorms at sea; he's even taken a 10,000-tonne freighter out of Haiti while the 2004 revolution was going on around him. 

Here's a guy you'll never be as awesome as

All that and he's never failed to take a boat back. 

Oh and he also has an English degree from the University of New Orleans, an MA in poetry and fiction from the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa (one of the best creative-writing programs in the US), has a law degree from the University of Northern California, and has taught English and history at high school.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Holographic character Hatsune Miku performs at sold out concert

In news that could make human musicians sweat a bit, a hologram is having great success on stage in Japan. For those not in the know, the software Vocaloid allows users to create synthetic singing voices for music tracks. Someone took this to the next level by having a holographic avatar of the fictional singer Hatsune Miku perform live on stage. Whether you find this creepy or enticing, the result is undoubtedly fascinating.

And for those possibly aroused by the above video, again in Japan we had the recent news that holograms you can touch are becoming a possible reality. At the University of Tokyo, researchers devised some clever methodology that can allow one to feel the images being displayed.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hungry? How about a tasty beard?

In the category of "so absurd you just have to believe it", comes this story here about a man who was forced to eat his beard after an argument. Naturally the battle royale was over something important like a tractor, and sadly for this fella, it escalated to where he had to have a hairy snack.

"Troy offered to buy it from me for $250 dollars. I paid twenty bucks for it. He thought I was trying to cheat him," Westmoreland told WLEX-TV. 
"One thing led to another, and before I knew it, there were knives and guns and everything just went haywire."

"(Then) they cut my beard and forced me to eat it," he said.

So remember kids, beards are dangerous, and should only be handled with caution and by professionals. Otherwise you might end up like this poor guy.

Facelifts and island building

While it's been awhile since I could devote a serious chunk of time to Minecraft, there has been progress to be made. Some time ago I decided to embark on a building project that would include bridges connecting the various islands around me, and a tower over the ocean. Well it wasn't long into my construction that the first blunders occurred. This one started as a result of building a ladder to reach the surface of my home island quickly. In my haste, I hadn't properly enclosed the exit hole, so one morning when I went to the surface I was given a greeting by two Creepers who wanted to give me an explosive hug.

One death later, and I was taking the long trek back again. I knew for this building project I needed lots of two things: Stone and Glass. With that in mind I went about putting my furnaces to good use, pumping out ample quantities of both. I finally felt like I was putting my resources and efforts to a unified use now, and with a spring in my step, I went out and began making my first bridge.

And this was where I started to see the bigger picture, and realize the challenges I'd face. The first island I would approach wasn't much of an island to begin with. Barely more than a sandbar, I contemplated just building my bridge over it and ignoring it. But then I decided that if there wasn't much of an island there to begin with, I could just build it up. So slapping dirt on the ground, I began to expand and eventually raise it up. I'm planning on this island to have a greenhouse of sorts.

Also during this timeframe I began to experiment with different texture packs, as the latest Minecraft patch offered quick and easy swapping between them. I'm fairly pleased with the one I'm trying now, although some of the textures I might look for alternatives to.

The bridge to nowhere

To see this through to completion will take much time for sure, but I'm ready to tackle it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Open source PC driver for Kinect already?

Hot off the heels of the story that there's a $2000 bounty out for an open source Kinect driver, we've got some results already surfacing.

And this was just 3 hours after the European launch of Kinect. Personally I'm curious as to what sort of apps and uses we could see utilizing a Kinect/PC setup.

In other news, I apologize for the lack of updates and such recently, as I've had company from out of town the last few days. I'm working on my next Minecraft progress report, and I'm considering a few other things like revamping the visual layout of the blog.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Jim Morrison might finally rest in peace now

Looks as if The Door's singer Jim Morrison's spirit could possibly breathe a little easier now, as outgoing Florida Governor Charlie Crist is considering a pardon for him over indecent exposure charges that were levied against him in 1969. From this story here, Crist is quoted as saying:

“Candidly, it's something that I haven’t given a lot of thought to, but it's something I’m willing to look into in the time I have left,” said Crist. “Anything is possible.”

Truly a relief, considering that those pesky charges have really been a drag on his career. I mean it's not like The Doors are some legendary band of classic rock history or anything. In any case, Jim Morrison's ghost could not be contacted for comment on the developments, although I'm sure someone is going to attempt a séance to change that.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

War nearly breaks out over Google Maps

Came across this story here, which in hindsight now is amusing but could've ended up far more serious. Basically what went down was a Nicaraguan military commander was attempting to utilize his Google-fu to discern where the borders of his country were.

Nicaraguan troops are accused of crossing the (hotly disputed) border into Costa Rica and setting up camp for the night. But the commander says it was all a mistake caused by shoddy Google Maps.

Turns out, the error was caused by incorrect border data from the State Department. In a blog post, Google says they've now corrected the error.

While I've lost track of the amount of times Google Maps have saved me from getting lost on trips, I have to say I would probably double check with other sources if my route could essentially lead me to WAR.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Just got these classic Nintendo Power magazines

Talk about a blast from the past. Recently I was given a stack of over 20 old Nintendo Power magazines, assorted issues ranging from the 20's to the 60's. It's like a rush of pure nostalgia reading through these, hearing the games of my youth talked about when they were brand new.

Some are in protective plastic

The quality is pretty good I think, with some wear on the covers but most interior pages being fine quality. Many still feature the fold out poster insert if I recall correctly. As for the content, I dig the in-depth guides offered inside, but for me the best pleasures are stuff like the little comics they'd have inside.

Back when videogames = Nintendo

I've gotten a huge kick out of reading these, and part of me is considering simply keeping them. However, my financial situation isn't exactly in the best of shape, and sadly I'll likely have to part with these via eBay or something. In any case, it's given me a nice dose of nostalgia.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Progress and The Plan

Since my last recounting of the many failures I'd accumulated, I figured it was time to hunker down and get to work on rectifying the mess I'd left myself in. Brooding over the lumps of Obsidian that were seemingly taunting me, I started mining around the area just hoping to gather come more minerals. It was during this effort at expanding the lava cave chamber a bit that I made my most startling discovery yet.

Diamonds aren't just a girls best friend

My face lit up in the biggest and dumbest grin I'd had in some time as I mined the Diamond, and when I found 2 more blocks just like it in the area, my wish was granted, and I now possessed in my hand a Diamond pickaxe. Nothing could stand in my way now, and I gleefully began harvesting the Obsidian in the region. Now this was where my lack of common sense bit me in the rear.

I was happily mining away when I sort of forgot that there was some lava below me. One little molten bath later and I was running away on fire while hoping against hope I could get in some water to put out the flames. Of course I was not so lucky, and of course I had to die at night, so I respawned literally in the middle of an army of skeletons/creepers/zombies with nothing but my fists and my wits. After a harrowing trip, I managed to make it back to the safety of my home. It was then that I really started noticing how haphazard and disorganized everything was. Nothing was pleasing to the eye, and the layout made me cringe. I thought about things for awhile, and after considering it, I decided on a new course of action:

First, I'll mine what Obsidian I can. Then, I'll make a network of covered land bridges to the surrounding islands. After that I'll pick a spot over the ocean waters and try to and make my fortress tower. I am considering doing a run or two through "The Slip" (the hell zone) in the meantime however, just for the sake of laughs and many deaths.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I won't look at this movie the same way ever again...

Hey all, sorry for lack of updates and such the last couple days, I've been a bit busy. I'll have a more proper update a bit later today, but in the meantime I thought you might enjoy this snippet of video from a cheese-tastic movie. I'm talking about Cliffhanger, and when I first saw it years ago I never noticed this little oddity:

Check out the insane grin from the one guy on the helicopter. Sort of throws the whole movie in a different perspective.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The fails keep on mounting

Well the much anticipated Minecraft Halloween update came the other day, and I took my time to play around with it. I didn't venture too far to see some of the nearby Biomes, but I have noticed what seems like even more monsters around now. This was a blessing though, as it allowed me to hunt plenty of Creepers and gather a decent amount of gunpowder.

This brought me to one of the biggest frustrations I had, which was figuring out how to actually use the stuff. After trying combinations of all sorts, I was at my wits end. It was then that my friend who also plays Minecraft finally clued me in. Sand and gunpowder. That was NOT what I was expecting, so after a proper facepalm, I went ahead and crafted 3 TNT. Excitedly I went down to the Obsidian and placed my block.

This has to work...

Lighting the fuse I ran like the wind out of the way and heard the BOOM behind me. Turning around, I was greeted by this...

...Well that didn't work

After dealing with the immediate letdown, I told myself that maybe I just didn't use enough TNT to blow up the Obsidian. So, blocking off the lava, I placed my last two TNT blocks down. This was when things got a little hairy. One of the blocks caught fire on its own, and I was left burnt and scrambling to escape before the two blocks exploded. Luckily I got away in time, but unluckily the Obsidian was still standing.

Bankrupt of TNT, bankrupt of pride, I was left with the sinking realization that I was going to have to man up and find some Diamonds.